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Turning a cheap railcar into something better

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Turning a cheap railcar into something better
Posted by JohnnyB on Monday, January 08, 2018 12:02 PM

One of the great things about this hobby is that if you get tired of working one one thing there are always all sorts of other aspects of the hobby to dive into. Case in point.

I bought this very low cost Tyco Bulkhead Flatcar off EBay a few weeks ago knowing that there would be some modifications.

First step was to disassemble it so I could see what I had to work with. The car also came with a "lumber load" but it was way, way out of scale. The boards were a scale 18' wide and nearly 6" thick. They gotta go.

I was going to use the deck that came with it but decided to just scratchbuild my own using the out of scale lumber. 18" wide boards would not be out of scale as the deck. First up, a sheet of .015 styrene to give a flat surface. Then .060 styrene to make the bulkheads on either end.

Cut the deck boards a scale 7 feet wide but not all of them. This is a hard working car after all and some boards will get damaged or broken. So I left the edges a little uneven. But I sanded the tops nice and smooth.

Now I could have left the boards in the lighter colors but I wanted some wear and tear. So a mixture of raw umber and burnt umber were dry brushed on.

But as you can see, they came out a little too dark for my liking. So some fine grit sanding sticks went to work and sanded a lot of the paint off, leaving a much better look. Then a couple of scrapes of the hobby knife across the deck to add a bit of character and I think she is ready to go back together.

Next up will be building the lumber loads using scale basswood. Until next time...

John is retired and loving it!

https://jmrailroad.wordpress.com/

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, January 08, 2018 1:15 PM

It sounds like a great project, but I cannot see any of your pictures.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by JohnnyB on Monday, January 08, 2018 1:33 PM

SeeYou190

It sounds like a great project, but I cannot see any of your pictures.

.

-Kevin

.not sure what to tell you, Kevin. Perhaps our sys admin might have an idea.

John is retired and loving it!

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Posted by michaelrose55 on Monday, January 08, 2018 1:43 PM

Nope, no pictures at all...

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Posted by JohnnyB on Monday, January 08, 2018 1:46 PM

Okay Steve Otte, what did I do wrong that the pictures can't be seen?

John is retired and loving it!

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, January 08, 2018 1:52 PM

OK, I looked at this right after he posted it, and there were pictures!  Not now!

Mike.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, January 08, 2018 1:55 PM

Much of my rolling stock is used stuff from my LHS or even from garage sales.  Even with new cars, kits or r-t-r, modifications are normal practice.

This is an Athearn Blue Box 50' flatcar....

I removed the original plastic deck along with the floor (an integral part of the deck) and the underframe.  Because I no long scratchbuild using wood, I decided to use-up the stripwood which I still had on-hand, to create a new deck.  The bulkhead ends are from a Walthers kit for a 53' GSC flatcar. 
I built simple bolsters from sheet styrene onto which the trucks could be mounted, allowing the car to ride more prototypically lower, then modified the endsills to allow proper coupler height.
The underside of the car shows why the frame was removed....

...so that even empty, the car, at 6.5oz. tracks well.

I generally paint the decks on plastic cars, like this Walthers GSC flatcar...

...but could have replaced the stock deck with pre-painted strip styrene, as I did on this loading dock...

The advantage of styrene over wood is that it can be installed using solvent-type cement, whereas the best choice for affixing wood to styrene is contact cement.

Wayne

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, January 08, 2018 3:23 PM

mbinsewi

OK, I looked at this right after he posted it, and there were pictures!  Not now!

Mike. 

 SInce you can still click the links and get the same thing, I suspect the original source location was only a temporary file name. Sort of like BEFORE Photobucket changed and people would sometiems just post the URL that appeared in their browser while viewing their photo, instead of the actual link provided in the box next to the picture.

                                       --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by JohnnyB on Monday, January 08, 2018 4:34 PM

For those who have not been able to see the pictures, can you see this image?

John is retired and loving it!

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, January 08, 2018 4:51 PM

We can see it.  If you are using the picture icon, the link has to end in some sort of picture extension like .jpg  .bmp .png or the like.  Google photos don't usually have those extensions

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, January 08, 2018 5:03 PM

I see it.

Mike.

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Posted by JohnnyB on Monday, January 08, 2018 5:29 PM

Yes and I think that's where the problem was. I uploaded that last picture from my blog, so that's where I will upload from now on.

Thanks everyone for the input.

John is retired and loving it!

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, January 08, 2018 9:28 PM

JohnnyB, Welcome to the MR Forums.

I suspect that since you're new here, your first few posts were likely moderated, which might explain the here-then-not-here photos.

Wayne

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 11:08 AM

JohnnyB might be new here but he intuitively knew enough to create a title for a posting that was all but guaranteed to draw Dr Wayne into the mix - well done!

Mantua/Tyco did create more than a few plastic car bodies that are excellent fodder for modification and improvement.  Somebody in their tool and die area knew what they were doing, and perhaps dispaired at the what the paint and lettering department routinely did to their creations.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by JohnnyB on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 12:54 PM

First thing I removed was the name. The Southern Railroad? Nope. That ain't gonna fly.

Not sure what I will replace it with just yet.

John is retired and loving it!

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Posted by Canalligators on Thursday, January 11, 2018 2:32 PM

Most of my rolling stock is low cost stuff that I've rebuilt.  That involves turning down flanges if needed, converting to Kadee couplers and adjusting coupler height, ensuring the trucks are adjusted to pivot correctly.  Sometimes they need new wheels and trucks.  As long as they function well.  Looks are secondary.

On my pike, the Athearn BB pieces are the good stuff.  I only own four high end cars.  They're beautiful and they roll extremely well, but you get 1.5x performance at 5x the price.

Genesee Terminal, freelanced HO in Upstate NY
  ...hosting Loon Bay Transit Authority, run through Amtrak and CSX Intermodal

CP/D&H, N scale, somewhere on the Canadian Shield

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 11, 2018 4:53 PM

As always, YMMV but when it comes to old cheap tyco train cars - it's your call.

My ex-wife had an old Tyco train set from her childhood and told me I could do what I wanted with it.  The box car had a molded on roof walk, it had talgo trucks and other deficiencies which made Athearn blue box cars look like fine scale models.  In the end, I could couldn't see how I could work a miracle to turn that pigs ear into a silk purse.  Maybe I am just not made of the right stuff but I could see it was futile for me to even try.  Kudo's to those with the chops to do it and have it turn out to be a visually good looking model.  It's not for the faint of heart like I was/am.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, January 12, 2018 2:08 AM

Here's a Tyco reefer with a moulded-on roofwalk and moulded-on hatch detail, too...

...with the original paint (possibly applied with a roller) removed, and an airbrush application of better paint and some metal grabirons and sill steps, it's a bit more acceptable...

However, the floors on these cars took on a bit of a sag (I'd already re-trucked them with Athearn trucks and had added body-mounted Kadees), and I decided to build new underbodies.
While I pondered the best way to go about that, it occurred to me that a wood-sided refrigerator car in the '30s would be unlikely to have the steel dreadnaught ends that were on these four cars, so I decided to address that, too...

I also had three LifeLike wood-sided refrigerator cars which had similar shortcomings, although they were already 36'-ers.  I had previously dressed them up a bit, with body-mounted Kadees and better trucks, but decided that they could look better still...

I also re-worked eight Athearn Blue Box boxcars, with new roofs, ends, floors and underframes, and rebuilt sides.  However, that's a longer story, and part of a fairly extensive rebuilding programme of many cars.  If you're especially bored or have time to kill, the whole shebang is well-covered HERE, with the Athearn car rebuild beginning on page 4 of the same thread.

As I mentioned earlier, my layout would be bereft of rolling stock without these rebuilds of older, mostly pre-owned, and cheap cars from the "used" section of my LHS.  The Athearn cars, for example, were all a buck-or-less.

Wayne

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, January 12, 2018 6:14 AM

Covered Hopper
  http://www.panoramio.com/photo/61642262

 Who was it that made a fairly cheap plastic version of this car?

I have a bunch of them that I intended to 'spruce up'.

 

PS: Can't even find a photo of that model freight car, but here is a similar car,

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, January 12, 2018 6:27 AM

Here is  a good photo of a similar car,

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, January 12, 2018 6:34 AM

Here is one that references a posting on Tyco forums. Perhaps it was Tyco that made the plastic HO model?

 

PS: Appears to maybe be an AHM model,...according to this tyco forum discussion.
More Pics
http://www.tycoforums.com/tyco/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=855

 

That is a very interesting AHM car. It does have a prototype or at least a solid prototype-suggestion...

Believe it is correct only for NYC and related roads. AHM did roadnames like Frisco and your Enjay Plastics, but some flavor of New York Central is the only prototypical paints to be applied according to what I know. They were custom made for the New York Central and/or their subsidary Merchant's Dispatch in the mid/late '60s by ACF.

They are known as "Flexi-Flow" Hoppers...
/tyco/forum/uploaded/Tony Cook/nycb.jpg
/tyco/forum/uploaded/Tony Cook/mdt1.jpg
/tyco/forum/uploaded/Tony Cook/nycff1.jpg
/tyco/forum/uploaded/Tony Cook/nyca.jpg


 

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, January 12, 2018 6:57 AM

Now I found a number of images of the 'HO model car when I googled "AHM Flex Flow hopper"

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, January 12, 2018 7:01 AM

a Details Kit for these cars,...wonder if it got into production?

http://www.planomodelproducts.com/10930/10930.html

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, January 12, 2018 7:57 AM

A very nice rebuild discussion on this forum, by a guy who really does EXCELLENT work, Bobby Pitts
http://atlasrescueforum.proboards.com/thread/2615/ahm-flexi-flo-hopper-bash

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, January 12, 2018 8:19 AM

railandsail
a Details Kit for these cars,...wonder if it got into production?

On the Plano website, you can also see Sean Steele's build.  I think it was Sean's project that prompted the "kit".  Sean used stock walkways and railings, and did an extensive article about it, which I believe was on the "Diesel Detailer" site, but now you can buy the kit from Plano.

I bought 2 kits last winter.  They are still waiting.  Laugh

Mike.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, January 12, 2018 9:17 PM

railandsail

Here is  a good photo of a similar car,

 
With that stylised "T" in the logo, it would be easy to think that Model Die Casting was the maker of the car pictured, Brian.
 
Wayne
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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 6:43 AM

I do recall one problem with these cars,...that external piping down below on the side was always subject to damage. Most often when you find these cars used that piping is cracked or chunks missing.

If you try to repair just simply cracks in the piping, it is not so easy? I don't know that I have discovered an adhesive that works well here, but then I have not yet done that much experimentation. Several ones I tried were not that sucessful.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 9:21 AM

I think if I had one, or a number of, those cars, and the piping was damaged, the best repair might be to re-do  the whole works in brass, using wire and, where necessary, tubing.  Soldered together, and pinned in-place, it would be a lot stronger.  To simplify things a bit, the plastic fittings could be salvaged, then drilled-out and re-used.

Wayne

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 9:33 AM

Wayne, that's exactly what Bobby Pits and Sean Steele did during the rebuilds they did of these cars. 

The molded tubing/piping on the original cars are flat on the inside.

This thread is going to inspire me to get back to my rebuild of a couple of these cars.  I've had the Plano kits for a year, or so. Laugh

Except, I have a Case 988 rubber tired excavator (on the bench now), 10 spine cars that need decals and weathering, and 4 tank car projects/rebuilds using Plano parts and the 50' MDC/Roundhouse side ladder tank cars, ahead of anything else!

Of course, I could just set up another table/bench....mmmmm Smile, Wink & Grin

Mike.

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:48 AM

mbinsewi

Wayne, that's exactly what Bobby Pits and Sean Steele did during the rebuilds they did of these cars. 

The molded tubing/piping on the original cars are flat on the inside.

Mike


I was just looking back at Bobby Pitt's description of his rebuild (that I referenced earlier in this subject thread), and I did not see the specifics of what he did?.
Perhaps a result of my not being a member on that forum, I could not view all the photos in big format? I just joined that forum a few moments ago.

I would have thought there would have been some separate photos of his piping construction?....or did I just miss them??

A very nice rebuild discussion on this forum, by a guy who really does EXCELLENT work, Bobby Pitts
http://atlasrescueforum.proboards.com/thread/2615/ahm-flexi-flo-hopper-bash


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